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David Nabarro

A special adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments not to use quarantine as the main strategy to control the spread of COVID-19 and warned about the increase in poverty as a result of the restrictions.

“At the World Health Organization we do not advocate quarantines as the main means of controlling this virus,” said Dr. David Nabarro, one of the six special envoys of the WHO for Covid-19, in an interview.


“The only time we think a quarantine is justified is to buy time to reorganize, regroup and rebalance your resources; protect health workers who are exhausted. But in general, we prefer not to ”.

The specialist, in charge of the WHO for the coronavirus in Europe, explained that the blockades “only have one consequence that should never be underestimated and that is to make poor people much poorer.”

According to Nabarro, the economic impact on small countries that depend on tourism and the increase in poverty levels are two important effects of quarantines and he cited as an example the damage suffered in places like the Caribbean or the Pacific due to the massive cancellation of the travel or losses of small farmers around the world because their markets have been hit.

For this reason, like other international organizations, the expert warned that world poverty could double by next year.

Look at what is happening with the poverty levels; It seems that it is very possible that world poverty will double next year, ”said Nabarro. “It is very possible that we have at least a doubling of child malnutrition because children do not receive meals at school and their parents, in poor families, cannot afford it. In reality, this is a terrible and frightening global catastrophe. ”


The WHO envoy called on world leaders to “stop using quarantine as their primary control method” and urged them to develop “better systems” instead.

“Work together and learn from each other,” he urged. “But remember, quarantines have only one consequence that you should never underestimate, and that is to make poor people so much poorer.”


Nabarro’s words come at a time when several countries are evaluating the imposition of new restrictions in the face of the second wave of infections and days later more than two thousand doctors and epidemiologists from around the world – led by Sunetra Gupta, Martin Kulldorff, and Jay Bhattacharya -issued a statement in which they asked the political authorities to avoid confinements in response to COVID-19.

The locks simply freeze the virus … they do not lead to its removal

This is not the first time that Nabarro has warned about the adverse effects of quarantines. In an article published a few days ago, the specialist advocated that governments around the world find a balance between restrictions and normal life, at a time when the second wave in Europe is accompanied by the imposition of new confinement measures.


“Too many restrictions damage people’s livelihoods and cause resentment. The ‘virus without brakes’ will cause many deaths and weaken the long-standing COVID among younger people,” he wrote.

The message of the article is that health measures that imply strict personal hygiene, effective location of contacts, and isolation in case of illness are the essential measures to take.


“This means testing, tracking, isolation, and protection services everywhere, with clearly justified performance metrics,” he wrote. “It is important that there is sufficient testing capacity to detect where the virus is, detect spikes, and manage surges”.

“The locks just freeze the virus … they don’t lead to its removal,” he said.

Tedros Adhanom, himself, WHO director-general, described the lockdowns as an ineffective long-term solution for any country in August.

“We don’t need to choose between lives and livelihoods, or between health and the economy. That is a false choice, ”he said.